Archive | March, 2011

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US Fed’s QE2 programme hits consumer confidence, raises mortgage rates

Last November, the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve justified his $600bn QE2 programme to boost financial markets by claiming “higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence“, whilst also leading to “lower mortgage rates“. And stock prices have indeed risen. As the above chart from PetroMatrix shows, there has been an […]

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China’s economy hits the ‘pause’ button

The blog’s recent Asian visit revealed considerable anxiety about the state of demand in China. As its blogging colleague, John Richardson, has also described, the country’s lending cutbacks may finally be taking effect. New official figures for lending and electricity consumption support this view. These are two of the only 3 figures trusted by likely […]

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US house starts remain at all-time lows

Changes in US housing values continue to exert a larger and more important impact upon household consumption than do changes in stock market values“. That’s the conclusion of an important new study by the developers of the main S&P Case-Shiller US House price index. The chart above, based on US Census Bureau data, shows the […]

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Facts of the week

The Financial Times reports two interesting facts: • Japan’s leading seismologist warned Tokyo Electric Power in June 2009 that “tsunamis of a completely different scale have come before” in the region of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. One, in 869, had “destroyed a castle“. But no changes were made to the plant’s defences. • The […]

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The Potential Impact of the Japan Disaster – an Update

Sadly, the blog needs to update its March 16 post, which analysed the potential impact of the Japan disaster. Earlier hopes of a quick end to the problems have proved false:•250000 people are now in refugee accommodation•The death toll is still rising, and is likely to reach at least 18000•The head of the International Atomic […]

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Uncertainty builds around the world

The blog has built great loyalty amongst its readers. 24% visit it twice a week. Recently, as during the 2008 financial Crisis, it has gained many new readers. They also want to better understand developments in the Middle East/N Africa (MENA), Japan, China, and oil markets, and what these might mean for future chemical demand. […]

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Electric autos launched in the USA

The blog has been following the development of General Motors’ electric auto, the Volt, since October 2008. Its old friend, Pedro Spohr of Galp in Portugal, had highlighted how a move to electric autos had the potential to change naphtha balances for the chemical industry. So it is delighted to see that the Volt has […]

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The super-computers even confuse Bloomberg

The blog has worried for some time about the growing dominance of super-computers in financial markets. Their activities are based on arbitrage between markets, not on fundamental analysis. And their power means that no financial market now knows what it is actually pricing. The headlines above, from today’s Bloomberg Energy page, highlight the issue. Even […]

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Dow Corning launches Shared Value initiative

100 million children in developing countries can’t to see the blackboard in school, because of poor eyesight. They need self-adjusting glasses, because of the shortage of optometrists. So the blog was delighted to learn about Dow Corning’s work with the Centre for Vision in the Developing World to overcome this problem. Their new Child ViSion™ […]

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Super-computers party, as energy markets trade at record ratios

Something very strange has been happening to US energy prices over the past 2 years. The chart above shows the ratio between WTI crude oil pricing and natural gas: • It was between 6.0 and 13.0 for 22 years between 1986-2008, with some minor exceptions, and averaged 9.9. • Yet since January 2009, it has […]

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